Maldives government highlights the impact of climate change by meeting underwater
The government of the Maldives has held its first underwater cabinet meeting to attract international attention to the dangers of global warming.
President Mohamed Nasheed, dressed in full scuba gear, conducted the 30-minute meeting at a depth of 20 feet off the coast just north of the capital Male.
Most of the island nation, a tourist paradise featuring coral reefs and white sand beaches, lies less just over three feet above sea level and scientists have warned it could be uninhabitable in less than 100 years.
Aminath Shauna, the event's co-ordinator, said the ministers had signed their wetsuits, which would be auctioned on the protectthemaldives.com website to raise money for coral reef protection in the atoll-chain.
The government arranged a horseshoe-shaped table on the seabed for the ministers, who communicated using white boards and hand signals.
The Divers Association of Maldives said the ministers, who had trained over the past two months, felt confident about the unprecedented meeting.
Of the 14-member cabinet, three ministers did not take part in the dive, as two have a medical condition while the third is currently in Europe.
The Maldives, located southwest of Sri Lanka, has become a vocal campaigner in the battle to halt rising sea levels.
In 2007, the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warned that a rise in sea levels of seven to 24 inches by 2100 would be enough to make the country virtually uninhabitable.